To His Name belongs all the Glory

O God… I am not worthy of all the faithfulness and unfailing love you have shown to me, your servant.

Don’t say to yourselves, “The LORD has given us this land because we are so righteous!” No…it is not at all because you are such righteous, upright people that you are about to occupy their land…I will say it again: The LORD your God is not giving you this good land because you are righteous, for you are not–you are a stubborn people.

Turn us again to yourself, O LORD God Almighty. Make your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved.

I will cleanse away their sins against me, and I will forgive all their sins of rebellion. Then this city will bring me joy, glory, and honour before all the nations of the earth! The people of the world will see the good I do for my people and will tremble with awe!—And their motto will be “The LORD is our righteousness!”
And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And He said to them, “This is my blood, poured out for many, sealing the covenant between God and his people.”He gave His life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing what is right.
Sing praises to God, our strength!—Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness—May He be given glory in the church and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever through endless ages. Amen.
Gen.32:10NLT; Deut.9:4,5,6NLT; Ps.80:19NLT; Jer.33:9,16NLT; Mark 14:23,24NLT; Titus 2:14NLT; Ps.81:1NLT; Ps.115:1NLT; Eph.3:21NLT

All we are and all we have and all that we enjoy is from God, not because we are so incredible, but because He is! Lest we mistake ourselves as being the center of the universe, Scripture reminds us from start to finish that all of the credit for anything we have is God’s, for His great glory. This is the tesimony of the church that will bring Him praise through all eternity–God is great and we belong to Him!

A counter-cultural Love

“You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times.  For people will love only themselves and their money…scoffing at God”
II Tim.3:1,2 NLT

Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this:  ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord.  And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’  Mark 12:29-31 NLT

It’s not natural, this requirement of loving God and loving others.  It’s not even possible apart from the Spirit’s work in us. Unless we are rooted and grounded in the love of God displayed for us in Christ, it will never seem safe or smart to stop spending our life energies to serve our own interests, amass stuff, and look out for the wrong ‘number one’.

But thanks be to God, He has better intentions for us than we have for ourselves. He knows that when we love Him best and most we will find the Life we were intended to have from the Creation of the world.  And He is willing and able to incline our hearts to that end.

I will never stop doing good for them.  I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me. Jer.32:40 NLT

For you are a holy people, who belong to the LORD your God.  Of all the people on earth, the LORD your God has chosen you to be his own special treasure….It was simply because the LORD loves you, and because he was keeping the oath he had sworn to your ancestors…Understand, therefore, that the LORD your God is indeed God. Deut.7:6,8,9 NLT

Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life… Deut. 30:19-20 NIV

Last night in our women’s Bible study we read and re-read Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian believers, these ones to whom he longed to make known ‘the unsearchable riches of Christ.’  He prayed that God would grant them an understanding of the unfathomable depths of His love for them so that they might be filled up ‘with all the fullness of God’.

What rationale for self-interest is left with a love like this at work on me?  And as for loving money and all that it can buy me, why?  Being loved by the Supreme Ruler and Owner of everything makes that notion laughable too.

Still, it is difficult to rise above cultural norms and see myself as expendable for God’s purposes without an instinctive self-preservation kicking in. I admire Paul’s testimony: “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.  (Acts 20:24 NKJV)

And though I still cringe to read verses like this, because I see myself as falling so short of their ideals:

Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me (Jn.12:25-26 NIV)

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. (I Jn. 3:16 NIV)

By faith, I keep reading them and trusting that the God who loves me and is committed to my good will do for me far beyond anything I can ask or imagine, including the fulfilling of these verses in my life!

And as He does for you and me what only He can do, our lives will shine with a love that is inexplicable apart from Him.  Our lives will declare His glory.


Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. (Ps. 143:8 NIV)

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.  (Eph. 3:20-21 ESV)

God is watching…

And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Heb 4:13 ESV

Gulp! At first reading this verse elicits a cringe response in me. It immediately follows an oft’ memorized one about the  living and active  Word of God, but is NOT often read or memorized along with that more well-known one.  Why is that?  Am I right to cringe?

Though it is true that God carefully watches the way people live; he sees everything they do.” (Job 34:21), for those who are in Christ Jesus there is no condemnation coming (Rom.8:1).  Our sins have been covered.  All God’s watching is for my good, to steer me from the sin that destroys and to call me to Himself. This I have been reminded of this morning.

David got this.

O God, you know how fooish I am; my sins cannot be hidden from you…But I keep right on praying to you, LORD…In your unfailing love, O God, answer my prayer with your sure salvation. Ps.69:5,13

Hagar also, having been sent off alone into the wilderness, presumably to die, found relief in God’s watchcare.

The angel of the LORD found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur. … Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the LORD, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.”  Gen 16:7, 13 NLT

Do I view God primarily as harsh Judge or merciful Redeemer?  This will depend on whether I have run to Him for rescue or hidden from Him, when overtaken in sin.

In the course of a day, do I think I am ‘grown up’ enough to take care of myself and mature enough to give God a break?  Do I think I can get on quite nicely without His superintending? Or have I learned to count on His nearness and watchfulness?

My two verses in focus this week as I inch my way through Psalm 116 are these:

“What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits to me?  I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD.”

This would hardly be a way of thanking my neighbor for all their help–here I am again, can you help me with one more thing–but in fact this is exactly the response that honors God!  It brings Him glory when we as His best-loved creatures look to Him in faith all the live-long day, when we count on and cherish His watchful eye.

He has designed me to need Him, always.  To come to Him for everything.  To turn to Him at all times.  This may be seen as undesirable weakness by the self-help crowd, but it is precious in God’s sight.  He delights to have His children looking to Him with eager expectation and trust.  This creature-Creator relationship is to His great glory and ours as well.

For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. II Chron. 16:9 ESV

Then the LORD asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless–a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.” Job 1:8 NLT

Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. Heb 10:35-39 ESV




Praying the prayers of Scripture–comfort and strength

I love the blessings of Scripture, whether in the prophetic fashion of Moses (Numbers 6:22-27) or the Spirit-fueled prayers of Paul.  They always point back to God as the original Blesser and the One on whom we are dependent for every good thing. But they do not appear in a vacuum applicable to all the world regardless of belief.  Their contexts often presume submission to God’s revealed truth.

Paul’s prayer for the believers in Thessalonica is no exception:

May our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father, who loved us and in his special favour gave us everlasting comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and give you strength in every good thing you do and say. II Thess.2:16,17

Paul’s blessing is prefaced by instruction about the great deception that will precede Christ’s coming. These believers are already suffering persecution for their faith in Jesus and they’re only too ready for His return. Some have become idle busybodies thinking Jesus’ coming imminent.  Paul writes to steady them and inform them of the events that will precede Christ’s coming so that they will stand firm in what they have believed and continue to speak and act as faithful stewards of God’s grace until He returns.

The comfort he speaks of is not that of a mother cuddling her infant in his fleecy blankie, but a ‘coming alongside’ as Advocate and Intercessor and Helper. It is the same function as that of the promised Spirit:

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever. Jn. 14:16 KJV

This is the Comfort of an all-wise God who comes alongside us to guide us and guard us in all our troubles in order to make us worthy of our high calling. It includes exhortation, entreaty, instruction, admonishment, and beseeching…all those old-fashioned functions of true Love, that do us infinitely more good than a cuddly blankie can.

When Paul prays that they be given strength, he is asking that they be firmly established in what is true, that they be set resolutely in the right direction, that they be planted firmly in what is right.  They don’t need designer ab’s.  They need resolve to hang on to what they’ve been taught already, so that no lie will displace the truth they’ve been given!

And that is my prayer today for myself,  and for fellow pilgrims who suffer and hope and wait for relief, and for wayfarers I notice testing the waters of false teaching…it’s a prayer that God is pleased to answer because of His great love for all the saints!



Have you checked your oil levels lately?

Command the people of Israel to provide you with pure olive oil for the lampstand, so it can be kept burning continually…have the lamps tended continually, from evening until morning, before the LORD. —Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope—Do not quench the Spirit.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption—And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty… Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place–until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts.

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!—Therefore stay alert, because you do not know the day or the hour. 

Lev.24:2,3 NLT; Lk. 12:35-36 ESV; I Thess. 5:19 ESV; Rom. 15:13 ESV; Eph 4:30 ESV; Rom. 8:23-25 ESV; II Pet. 1:16,19 ESV/NLT; Rev 22:20 ESV; Gal 5:25 NIV; Mt.25:13 NET

Keeping the lamp burning is a beautiful picture of the shining hope that is ours through the indwelling Spirit.  As we walk day-by-day with Him He keeps us in hope—pointing us to Jesus, making us aware of sins that dim the flame, and giving us the joy of an assured identity, a steady love, and a sure future.  We are people of hope.  Let’s check our oil levels, trim our wicks and shine! till Jesus comes.